There are always certain files on my computer, especially my laptop, that I want hidden from everyone but myself; just in case . . . While Windows has a built-in encryption solution, it’s anything but transparent or convenient. What I really want is a solution that does it’s job without me being overly conscious that it’s there and to be as secure as possible at the same time. I don’t want to have to encrypt each new file that is created or enter my password 20 times during each session.
The other day, I ran across TrueCrypt, a free, open-source encryption tool that does everything I want. TrueCrypt lets you specify a volume on your computer that will always be encrypted on the fly with no user intervention other than having to specify your password to “mount” the volume when you boot up or use it. The volume doesn’t have to be an actual partition. It can be a file (think of it as a virtual directory structure inside the file) anywhere on your PC. I set one up on my PC and on a USB memory stick. Piece of cake, although it took me a few passes to find the ideal setup for what I wanted.
TrueCrypt supports AES-256, Blowfish (448-bit key), CAST5, Serpent, Triple DES, and Twofish encryption algorithms. While I neither have the brains nor the skills to try to hack my own encrypted volumes to see if the encryption is truly effective, testimonials I’ve read make me feel comfortable that I’m getting the security I believe I am. After all, It’s not like I’m keeping national security secrets or anything.
TrueCrypt works fine under Vista, which I can’t say for many other programs screwing with the file system. If you’re looking for a convenient way to protect your files from snooping eyes, this solution looks pretty good.